Best Leave It To Gwyneth
It’s been windy round these parts this week - and I don’t mean in a digestive way. California has had a proper bout of weather: rain, and wind and more rain and a bit more wind, thunder, lightning and flooding. It's been tricky for people because of power outages due to fallen trees. Here at Tweddley manor we've been OK so far, and even though we’re surrounded by a lot of trees, weirdly I've found the sound of the wind in them, strangely reassuring.
Scotland is a place that gets a lot of weather - sometimes all 4 seasons in one day . I remember on one particularly blustery Winter’s day when I was a teenager, my Mum looking out of the window and asking, “Do you think the trees panic when they lose all their leaves in the Winter and worry it might never be Spring again?”
I’d love to know what was going on in her head at the time. My Mum talked about a lot of things. She would talk about worry in terms of, “I'm worried about you going out without a jacket on,” but not other worries. Not the worries I know now as an adult we all have.
But I do know that life is bumpy. And when it is, your mind can go to all sorts of places.
Around 25 years ago, I was walking on Holkham beach in the UK. The very same beach where Gwyneth Paltrow walked for that scene in Shakespeare in Love - and there all similarity with me and Gwyneth probably ends, apart from that we're both female and bi-peds.
When the tide is high in Holkham it looks pretty much like any other picturesque coastal area. But when the tide goes out, the sea almost disappears. The beach stretches for miles and miles. In fact, the sea goes so far out, it’s hard to believe there’d ever been water there.
I walked alone. I had thinking to do. I knew I had to end a relationship. It wasn't good and hadn't been for a while. But I had so much invested in it, I almost didn't know me without the other person. So I didn’t know that I could. Truthfully, I was scared.
But once you know something you can't unknow it. You can pretend, or tell yourself you'll handle it later, or it will get better. But it never gets better. It only gets darker.
I've never been like one of those smiling “Feel like a change?” hair dye adverts. When I make a change it's because there is no alternative. So I was trying to find an alternative.
Walking along this vast plateau of sand towards the water, I wondered if anyone ever panicked that the sea wouldn't come in again. That it had gone forever. Nobody seemed to. Everyone around seemed to be having a lovely time. Down at the shoreline there was a couple of kids playing with a ball . A little further along there was a guy walking a dog. Behind me, two women rode horses along the sand. Sea birds cawed overhead in a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.
When I finally reached the shoreline, I rolled up my jeans and stood with my feet in the water, looking as unlike Gwyneth Paltrow as it is possible to look. The water was cold, but good.
Wiggling my toes, I laughed to myself about how I'd just asked myself my own version of my mother's about the trees. Why would anyone panic about the tide not returning, when they knew from experience that the moon would make it so? Why would the trees panic about losing their leaves when they know they have to shed to make room for the new? Why was I so afraid of change, when I know it’s the core of the ebb and flow of life?
The place where my feet were was usually underwater. All around the beach there were signs saying to be mindful of the tides. Pretty soon the tide would come in. There’s danger in not adapting to what is. No point in ignoring the signs.
I turned and walked back towards the land. I knew what needed to be done and knew I’d be OK. Life would be different, but at some point along the line, I’d be OK.
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s wonderful to still be connected to people from years back, and still in some limited way journeying together. But everything is all about ebb and flow, and it’s so tough to hear when people you care about are struggling.
I want to say to them, what my mother said to me all those years ago when, as a teenager, I faced a challenge I really thought might floor me. “Do you think trees panic when they lose their leaves in the Winter because they think it will never be Spring again?”
But I don't, because they'd probably think I was mental. And anyway, you have to be someone like Gwyneth Paltrow to get away with that kind of stuff.
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